RIP Sports Authority. Forget Dick's. Explore local outdoors shops to help you get out of your gym funk. Exercising outside burns more calories, provides a healthy dose of Vitamin D and a much-needed change of scenery. Plus, it helps you lose track of time — something a hand towel over a treadmill display will never help you do. Now to find the gear. Expect personalized service at one of the local shops below:
Bill Jackson's Shop for Adventure
9501 U.S. 19 N, Pinellas Park (727) 576-4169; billjacksons.com
Founded by the late, great Bill Jackson (1916-2014), the outdoor sports mecca is a destination unto itself, equipped with an indoor pool for scuba and kayak training, a snow-ski ramp and gun range, all inside a sprawling 38,000-square-foot space. The store's distinctive resort look can be credited to Jackson's wife, Harriet, who installed green stone from Wyoming, red cedar from California and cypress from Florida. Bill Jackson's stocks everything you need on land and in the water, and presents events and seminars to help you fish, climb and dive with ease and expertise.
Tampa Bay Outfitters
701 S Howard Ave., Tampa (813) 254-8444; tampabayoutfitters.com
Located next to the Panera in Hyde Park, Tampa Bay Outfitters is an earth-toned Nirvana, the place to go if you're planning a camping or hiking trip and are seeking to invest in quality gear — especially useful if you're headed for colder climates. Google and Yelp reviewers have praised TBO's customer service and selection. There are products to clothe you, store your stuff and even feed you — unique accessories and gadgets that make for fun browsing (like Skymall but in person!). TBO also stocks sought-after labels such as Patagonia, an outdoor-wear brand that has hip cachet, worn by rappers Danny Brown and ASAP Rocky.
2nd Time Sports
25716 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater (727) 784-0007; 2ndtimesports.com
If you're budget-minded or a parent, 2nd Time Sports has a wide variety of secondhand equipment of all types, clothing and swag for kids. But before you get skeeved out by the idea of a stranger's sweaty palms or rump on your gear, know that the Clearwater store is one of the only sports consignment shops that puts its merchandise through a giant ozone machine, sterilizes items of all sizes and removes nasty viruses such as Bordetella and MRSA. A separate hockey section in the back can help you afford the most expensive team sport for kids, and the sales clerks are knowledgeable and accommodating. They're willing to negotiate prices and provide store credit for that Stairmaster collecting dust in the garage.
1875 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater (727) 442-7923; advantageyours.com
A local tennis institution for nearly 30 years, the shop has a new owner, Jason Hood, a young entrepreneur and tennis player who is bringing fresh energy to the shop. Browse more than 100 racket frames from all major manufacturers, including Head, Wilson and more. Racket purchase includes a premium synthetic gut string and free 30-minute tennis lesson with a local tennis pro.
14308 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 908-1960; runcenter.com
Selling running shoes, clothing and accessories is a labor of love for owner Bill Davison, a certified pedorthist. The shop hosts weekly runs through Carollwood Village for all experience levels at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and helps the needy through community fundraisers.